CLC to Present Arguments in Court Defending Michigan’s Voter-Approved Redistricting Commission


61% of voters supported independent commission at ballot box in 2018 in constitutional amendment spearheaded by Voters Not Politicians

CINCINNATI, OH – Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit will hear arguments in Daunt v Benson, a case that challenges the constitutionality of voter-approved reforms designed to end gerrymandering in Michigan. The decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and would impact the movement to adopt independent redistricting commissions across the country. Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represents Voters Not Politicians (VNP), the grassroots group that drafted and sponsored the constitutional amendment to create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. CLC has successfully defended Michigan’s voter-approved reform from two legal challenges so far. Twice in federal district court and in a prior appeal to the same appeals court hearing today’s arguments, the commission was ruled constitutional.

Arguments will be live streamed here at 10am ET. CLC director of trial litigation Mark Gaber will be giving arguments on behalf of the defense.

“Voters should pick their politicians, not the other way around,” said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “We hope the court will reject this latest attempt by politicians and special interests to hold onto their power to redraw district lines and thwart the will of the people. The fair maps amendment was supported by 61% of Michigan voters and should be upheld.”

"It’s been over two years since the people of Michigan voted overwhelmingly to put an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission in charge of drawing the state’s election district maps free from potential conflicts of interest from politicians and lobbyists,” said Nancy Wang, executive director at Voters Not Politicians. “The citizen-led redistricting process is proceeding just as voters intended. Voters are engaged and already submitting their input. The Commission will conduct public hearings around the state starting in May. Voters Not Politicians is supporting communities so they may make themselves heard in the redistricting process for the first time in our state’s history.”

Michigan’s redistricting reform amendment makes partisan politicians, lobbyists and other political insiders and their immediate family members, who are likely to have a conflict of interest in drawing district lines to benefit themselves, ineligible from serving on the commission. The individuals would, like any member of the public, have the ability to engage in redistricting by taking part in the public hearing process.

In 2018, 61% (over 2.5 million) of Michigan voters decided to put voters in charge of drawing state legislative and congressional election maps through a fair and transparent process for drawing political maps. Michigan voters of both major political parties supported the amendment, including voters in 65 of Michigan’s 83 counties.

At least 60 percent of Democrats, Independents and Republicans support the creation of independent redistricting commissions, according to polling.

Read the backstory: [How Michigan Voters Came Together to Flip Gerrymandering On Its Head]